Over 20 FREE Library Card Benefits & Surprising Things You Can Borrow
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Check out these free library card benefits you may not know were available with your membership.
Why buy when you can borrow?
If you haven’t visited your local library lately, you may be in for a pleasant surprise! Libraries across the country offer more than just books. Many have added household items, toys, games, and more – all available for checkout, and often referred to as the “Library of Things”.
This is a great way to try before you buy, or to save money by simply borrowing! Who knew there were this many library card benefits and perks?!
Not sure where to start? Here’s how to get a library card:
For most teens and adults, many libraries allow you to apply either online or in person. Children under 13 (age varies) are usually required to go in person and must have to have a parent or guardian’s permission.
Are library cards free?
Yes! Any resident of each state is eligible to obtain an entirely free library card, meaning you also get free access to all the amenities listed below. Note that fees for things like late book returns or printing may apply. Since every location varies, check your local library for their official rules.
Please note that items will vary from library to library, so be sure to check your local branch website or stop by to find out which items are available in your area.
Check out these free library card benefits:
Does your kiddo have an idea for a design and want to bring it to life? Select libraries are now offering 3D & 5D printing services. Prices typically start around 15¢ per gram of filament used in the printing process.
Does your kiddo love ABC Mouse but your subscription is expired? Ask your library if they have an ABC Mouse account. The service typically must be used while in the library and on their computer. It’s a great way to keep your kiddo occupied while you’re relaxing with your favorite book at the library.
Image Credit: Phoenix Public Library
If you’re in the Phoenix area, you can use an Active Workstation while you’re at the library! These workstations include a treadmill with a desk and computer that library visitors can use to surf the internet while staying active. How cool is that?
Image Credit: New York Public Library
American Girl Dolls
Yes, it’s true! Some libraries are offering American Girl Dolls as a part of their library lending programs. Dolls are typically available to be checked out for a week at a time. This is a great way for your kiddo to play with an American Girl Doll without spending a penny!
Need a fun game to play at your next get-together? Consider borrowing a game from your local library and save your cash for more appetizers. Grab one for a rainy day when the kiddos are complaining about being bored!
Image Credit: Arrowhead Library System
Books by Mail
Not able to get to the library due to permanent or long-term illness, or over the age of 65? Many libraries are now offering a Books by Mail program where you can have select titles shipped to you to borrow at no charge. This is a great resource for senior citizens!
Image Credit: Akron Public Library
Want to bake a cake for a special occasion but don’t have the right pan? Some libraries have begun offering a wide variety of cake pans that you can check out. My librarian told me that the train cake pan is their most popular cake pan, especially around the holidays! Who knew?
Need help with your resume? Time to get in shape? Look no further than your local public library for free or low-cost classes on everything from Fitness, Crafts, Square Dancing, Painting, Foreign Language, Resume Preparation, and so much more. ILoveLibraries.com also mentions that many libraries offer resources to learn new skills for students, hobbyists, small business owners, and more!
Computers & Tablets
Don’t have a personal computer at home? Head to the library and borrow theirs! Some libraries even have laptops and tablets that you can check out, which is great for taking advantage of their free catalog of eBooks.
Copiers, Printers, & Scanners
Need to print out something and your printer is on the fritz? Never fear, the library has you covered! Most libraries have copiers, printers, scanners, and fax machines that you can use. Prices will vary per area but are typically pretty reasonable compared to big box stores like Office Depot, UPS Store, etc. My library charges 15¢ for black and white copies/prints, $1 for color copies/prints, $1 per fax, and 25¢ per item scanned. Pretty sweet pricing if you ask me!
e-Books & Audio Books
Your library card gives you access to e-Books & Audio Books available from various online services such as OverDrive, ProQuest, eReadKids, and many more. Why pay for expensive monthly services when you can get them for free?
Image Credit: Fon du lac Public Library
Energy Efficiency Meter Kits
Borrow an easy-to-use meter that calculates electric usage and the cost of household appliances to help you reduce your energy bill. Some libraries may require you to be at least 18 years old to rent tools like this.
Magazines & Newspapers
Miss reading your favorite magazines? Many libraries offer digital versions of magazines through Ebsco.com, which are totally free with your library membership! Or as mentioned by My Modern Met, you can read the hard copy versions while you’re at the library.
Tons of libraries even offer an extensive old newspaper database, which is filled with tons of useful resources!
Image Credit: Shaler Library
Want to find hidden treasure at the beach? Lose an earring in the yard? Your local library may be able to help by loaning you a metal detector.
Microscopes, Binoculars, & Telescopes
Have a Science buff at home? Some libraries have microscopes, binoculars, and telescopes that can be checked out – perfect for helping with school science class projects!
Most libraries have a collection of CDs that you can borrow, but did you know that you can also borrow digital music, too? Many libraries are now offering free digital music downloads via services like Freegal, Hoopla, and more!
Image Credit: Georgia Public Libraries
Museum, Zoo, State Park, & Experience Tickets
Did you know that you can possibly score passes to museums, zoos, national parks, and more for free or discounted rates simply by using your library membership? At my library, you can check out a DVD about our local Zoo, and when you return it you’ll get a voucher redeemable for free zoo tickets for a family of four.
At libraries in Georgia, you can check out the State Parks Backpack, where members will score a hanging tag that allows free parking at all of Georgia’s state parks and historic sites as well as the Historic Site Family Pass that allows four (4) free admissions into any of Georgia’s historic sites. This program is available at most libraries throughout the country! What a great way to experience all that your city/state has to offer culturally without spending your hard-earned money.
As shared by Apartment Therapy, those of you in New York are lucky as there is a huge list of museums that you can get into for free with your library card via the Culture Pass program.
Need something new for family movie night? Don’t waste your money buying or renting DVDs, head to the library and borrow one for free. My library has a nice selection, however, the titles are a little dated, so it’s a good time to check out an oldie but goodie you may have missed.
Prefer to stream movies? Head to Kanopy.com where you can stream recent and classic movies for free when you sign up for an account by using your library card!
Need to fix something around the house or have a DIY project that you need a power tool? Some libraries are now loaning tools! What a great way to keep the cost down for your project by avoiding having to pay for expensive tools.
I’m not a fan of buying puzzles because they can sometimes be pricey and I never want to work on one again once I’ve finished it. Many libraries have puzzles available to check out, or you can work on a shared Puzzle In Progress at the library. The puzzle is on a table and you can stop by and work on it, then when you’re done someone can start working on it where you left off.
Want to give gardening a shot? Select libraries have packages of seeds that you can score FREE with your library card! Grab some and teach your kiddos about plants and vegetables.
I was surprised to find out that my library loans Sewing Machines! They’re completely free to check out when you use your library card. I checked around and it seems like quite a few libraries offer this service. This is a great way to give sewing a try before spending a lot of money on one of your own.
Image Credit: Pontiac Public Library
Borrow fishing poles, soccer kits, footballs, baseballs, and more! Your public library may just have what you need to enjoy a fun afternoon of outdoor play with the kiddos.
Image Credit: Kenton Library
Sensory, STEM & STEAM Learning Kits
Your kiddos will love being hands-on with STEM & STEAM Learning Kits, and you’ll love the price – FREE! This is a great way for them to learn about coding, science, technology, mathematics, and more.
Study & Meeting Rooms
Work from home and need a change of scenery? Head to the library and you can use one of their study rooms for a quiet environment to finish that big work project without the distractions/noise at home. I work from the library at least 2-3 times a week and it’s nice to get out of the house, plus I feel like I get more work done there. It’s also a great place for your club or non-profit group to hold their next meeting.
Image Credit: Harvard Countway Library
Students at Harvard and Emory University can borrow therapy dogs for 30 minutes of cuddling and playtime. Many university libraries especially do this during final exam season. Studies show that students felt more relaxed after taking a break from their studies to play with one of these pups. I sure wish my library offered this service! 🐶
Need to connect to the internet from your smartphone or laptop? Head to the library and use their free Wi-Fi! Libraries typically will have the password hung up on the wall or available at the main desk.
Image Credit: Brian Mead for American Libraries Magazine
More awesome items you may be able to borrow from your local library…
- Art Kits
- Assistive Tool Kits
- Craft Kits
- Musical Instruments
- Tax Help/Forms
- Roomba Vacuums
Here are 38 Ideas for How to Save Money Fast!
My library offers free audiobooks through Overdrive and Libby! It’s awesome! I’m always telling co-workers and friends they need to sign up because they’re missing out!
I know our library only has the basics. ಠ︵ಠ
Am behind on my techie stuff…how do you listen to audiobooks?
You will have to find out what app your library uses, should be available on the website. My library uses The Cloud Library App.. Just download the app from the app store, put in your information(most likely just your library card number) and browse through the books., I listen in my car through the bluetooth. My husband doesn’t have bluetooth in his car so he uses ear buds,,
Nope, our library doesn’t carry any of these awesome things. 🙁 we just have movies, books, video games and CDs . I wish we had half of the stuff you are talking in this post. It would be fantastic! I hope our library sees this post and takes some notes.
Maybe you could make a suggestion to your library?
I have borrowed a Roomba and Sewing Machine from our library. There’s many other items too. Pretty cool!
a ROOMBA?! 😀
Our library lets you borrow kitchen appliances like an immersion blender, Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker. We ❤ our library!!
LOVE my public library!
I’ve been doing free Ebooks for years. There’s usually a wait list for popular titles but I just read as i get them. Wish we had nice libraries here with some of these things!
I live in Colorado and we can belong to any library district in the state- not just the county we live in! I have memberships across the stare for their different online memberships.
Love my library! Ours offers a little o
ver half of these items and I would guess our family has saved hundreds over the years. What a blessing!
My favorite item is the WiFi hotspots! We also have bikes. I wonder about the upkeep for the dolls and power tools. I’d love if we had sewing machines w/ classes.
Yep, the Cleveland Public Library (OH) has WiFi hotspots, too. It also has a Tech center where you can scan thing like paintings and wedding albums. Plus, the librarians there are so nice!
BIKES! So cool!
I wish my library would offer a cricut to use, even in-house.
Our library has audiobooks on the hoopla app & free home delivery of all books. It’s amazing!
Also check out the Hoopla app and the Hoopla channel on Roku. You can borrow ebooks audio books comics music movies and streaming TV if you have a library card.
We love Hoopla but I didn’t know about the app on Roku! Thank you!
Chicago Libraries have passes for each of the museums (admits 2 adults and 2 kids) and I check these out whenever I have guests visiting. With adult admission being nearly $30-$40 per person most places, I’ve saved a bundle!
**In a similar vein, the science museums have reciprocity for members so one family who visits uses their local Science Museum membership to get into Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry for free!
Our natural history museum in Atlanta has reciprocity with the ASTC and we can go to all kinds of science museums across the US for free. Definitely worth it if you travel or are science nerds like us!
Ours just opened the Library of Wonderful Things!! They have kindles, Roku’s with Netflix, wifi hotspots ( we use for vacations since we all share data on our wireless plan), a sno cone machine, ice cream maker, punch bowl, laminator, telescope, microscope, electric keyboard. They have an Amazon wish list and are wanting fishing poles, tents and lawn chairs, too !!!
You could have a carnival with everything they have to borrow!
OMG I didn’t realize all the items that the library offers. No wonder why our property taxes keep going up and a lot goes to the library.
Want your library to have things like this? Talk to them! Volunteer! Donate! Libraries love to see their community take an interest, and support them.
My library just started their library of things and everyone is so excited.
Ours has puppets for there only and wooden puzzles, which can be borrowed.
Puppets sound so fun!
Library’s budget, just like your public schoools depends on your taxes, Libraries only get a few %, in case you’re wondering why your local library doesn’t offer great services like those listed here.
YES! Libraries have all sorts of great stuff to borrow. They appreciate your support and will often take suggestions about what to offer that you might enjoy. My local library noticed that people loved it when they did exercise or wellness events, so now they have free weekly yoga, zumba, tai chi, and line dancing classes that anyone can take.
I would add: Genealogy. Many libraries maintain premium subscriptions to sites like Ancestry.com as well as maintain lots of local history resources, so if you are putting together your family tree or tracing your roots, you should definitely check out the resources (and trained research librarians!) at your local library.
Wow I had no idea. Might have to check out my library more closely. Thanks!
Just a note for those who LOVE their local libraries: Don’t forget about them when looking to declutter! Some of the items they loan out are donated and many would love to receive items that their patrons can borrow. (Just be sure to ask before dropping anything off. :-))
The library has always been my happy place, and getting a library card is one of the first things I do when I move somewhere new. I don’t think my library has anything unusual to loan out, but they do have all kinds of classes and online subscriptions, like hoopla, creativebug and mango languages.
I am jealous about some of these options! I want to add to the list access to Linda.com tutorials and you can get free wi-fi for home. Apparently it is a device that offers wireless internet. Who knew such a thing existed!
I love my library, even though we don’t have nearly as much as what is shown here. I love to read and borrow movies from them. We have our own little library store in our library where we can purchase books, movies, magazines, and puzzles inexpensively. I always donate my free magazines I get to them to help make more money to support my library.
Our library has a huge variety of cake pans in all kinds of characters and shapes 🙂
Yes! We homeschool and our library is a life saver. It saves us tons of money! My best advice is to know your librarians. They often know tons of resources and in addition, they can often suggest purchases for the library system. So if you’d really like your library to have a certain book, movie or even a sewing machine, the librarians may be able to help facilitate that. Never hurts to ask!
Thank you for therapy dog info at Harvard.
Someone else already mentioned free access to Mango Languages. Similar to Rosetta Stone – a huge variety of languages and a strong learning program. Work at your own pace.
Our library accepts gently used books, DVDs etc to sell at a discount price to the public. The money goes right back into the library programs. Check w your local branch and see if they’re accepting these donations. Also, if you’re a small business and want to get your name out, consider donating a few items they could use as prizes for a reading program for kids or adults. Lastly, if you have any amount of time in your day…run your kids, your parents, your neighbors up to the library and get them cards! Many people don’t even realize how much libraries have evolved and how modern they are. Ours has done a huge overhaul and has all new movies and books you can sign up to get as soon as they come in. No more Redbox late fees 😉
I have borrowed that metal detector. I took my niece and nephew on a treasure hunt. We had a fantastic time. I visit 2 libraries in my area. I’ve borrowed power tools, an extension cord, a radon detector, air quality test machine, and free pass to our local History Center (museum). I have access to the Hoopla app free through my library. It’s amazing. There is are cake pans, and a telescope available. Thanks for the post. I’m always trying to tell my friends how wonderful the library is.
We have libraries in the northeast ohio area that have recording studios that you can use for free. I remember when my son had to pay to record a music CD for me as a gift. This is a wonderful resource — I just love the library!
I work at a University Library, and in addition to supporting the students at the University, we also are a state school and give Community cards to Delaware residents. The only thing community patrons can’t do is access our electronic services (databases). We offer checkout of laptop and Surface Pro computers (in library use), calculators, headphone, we also have Rosetta Stone for use free. We will help all patrons research, and get books, and Journals. We also have a Delaware Room where we have Delaware related materials, and our archives which is about the University.
Wow! I’m so surprised at all the things available to borrow. I find this topic sort of overwhelming though. I wouldn’t even know how to get a library card. What sort of paperwork or information needs to be provided to get a card? Would I be able to get a replacement card if I had a library card as a kid? Those are reasons I have stayed away from libraries.
You just need an ID, like your drivers license, and then you might need something else that proves that you live in that city…..like a utility bill, bank or credit card statement, rental lease, etc. You can call your library to find out, or google their website and the information should be there.
Library employees are always helpful, and they’ll be glad to help you, and show you everything they offer. You’ve been paying for your library in your property taxes, or in your rent (of which part of the rent goes to property taxes, too). So you should go see what they have for you 🙂
Our local libraries also offer power washers, tandem bicycles and mobile hot spots. Also, camping equipment including tents. In texas.
Wow! Good to know what other items you can get from your library, Alexandra! 💕Thanks for sharing that!
Our library offers free notary services.
SWEET! Thanks for the heads up, Lora! 🙌
From my local library’s website you can access all sorts of on-line resources through your library card. Things like Mango languages, Consumer Reports, Creative Bug, Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.
So awesome that your local library offers those online resources for cardholders! Thanks so much for sharing! 🥰
You can get appointments to apply for passports at our library. This was much nicer than waiting at the post office!
Woohoo! That’s a great perk that your local library offers, Amy! Thanks for letting us know! 🙌💕